Updated: Jun 30
Written By: Katie Bresnahan
As Millennials or Gen Zs, your parents have most likely exposed you to a British Invasion band at some point. You might’ve grown up listening to the Rolling Stones’ "Sympathy for the Devil" in the backseat of the car on the way home from school, or all your family had to listen to while en route to a family vacation was an old Rubber Soul Beatles CD. These experiences may have even shaped your music taste to this day. That’s how far, wide, and deep the reach of the British Invasion has been.
Now, just like in 1964, music is making its way from east to west, but it has a little bit farther to go this time. K-Pop started its diffusion from South Korea and into western pop culture in 2012 with the eruption of Psy’s hit "Gangnam Style." While many true K-Pop fans regarded the song as an inaccurate reflection of the genre, it broke the competitive seal. What distinguishes the great K-Pop artists from the good is their immense and deeply dedicated fan base. Take a more in-depth look at what Rolling Stone magazine has to say about the rise of the genre here.
Just like the Beatles, the K-Pop boy band BTS has captured the hearts of fans around the world. With tightly choreographed dance routines and magnetically vibrant melodies, it’s no wonder these guys have roughly 15 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. Vox describes the emerging genre as a “distinctive blend of addictive melodies, slick choreography, and production values” with “an endless parade of attractive South Korean performers who spend years in grueling studio systems learning to sing and dance in synchronized perfection,” and BTS certainly lives up to this high standard. “With streaming, fans now have such a large voice, and that’s how BTS really became a phenomenon — because the fans made it a phenomenon, like with the underground culture of punk and hardcore,” says DJ Steve Aoki in an interview with Rolling Stone. “These guys just crush it. And I think because the fans are making such a big deal, it’s not going anywhere.”
Emma is a veteran BTS fan of five years from Miami. She is creating a map that shows where BTS fans live all over the world, and she already has 6,961 fans participating! “Over the few years of being an ARMY, BTS has gotten more and more popular and soon enough became worldwide. Millions of fans around the world don’t have the chance to see BTS as their tours don’t have a variety of dates. My project hopes to reach out to BTS and help them realize that the US and Korea aren’t the only places where ARMY lives, and have them expand their tour dates to Russia, Ireland, Norway, India, and more,” says Emma.
“When I translate the lyrics into English, I really feel like it's a song written for me. Whether it's a love song, popularity song or a sad song, it puts you through a rollercoaster of emotions that only BTS can do. For example, "The Truth Untold" seeks to talk about inner struggles and how they are forced to hide their true selves under a mask in order to keep going. Another example, "Fake Love," is about the dark side of love and how sometimes when you love someone you want to change who you are to fit that person’s expectations.”
K-Pop is highlighting the beautiful power of music. Regardless of the language, the lyrics are in, melodies have the strength to impact fans globally. Emma’s project is a perfect reminder of what truly binds us together as music lovers.
Thanks so much to Emma! Your project is so amazing. We hope that BTS expands their tour dates and locations, too!
If you want to get more involved in fan communities,